Understanding Consent and Sexual Violence
Get Support Give Support Report Sexual Assault Understanding Consent Give Support

This site is intended to serve as a general resource for members of the University of Manitoba community seeking information and support for all forms of sexual violence, including sexual assault and sexual harassment. Please consult the Sexual Assault Policy (PDF), the Respectful Work and Learning Environment Policy (PDF), the RWLE and Sexual Assault procedure (PDF), and the Violent or Threatening Behavior Policy for specific information about the rights and responsibilities of members of the University community. Where there is a conflict between the information on this website and the University's policies or procedures, the policies and procedures will apply.

It's important to understand the key concepts involved in discussions of sexual violence.

What is consent?

Consent is a voluntary agreement between two people before participating in any physical contact or sexual activity.

Consent can be withdrawn at any time by any person.

Consent is NOT obtained when a person:

  • is forced or coerced
  • is threatened
  • is manipulated by authority
  • is intoxicated or drunk
  • is sleeping
  • is unconscious
  • is silent
  • is not fighting back
  • says "no"

Without consent, it is Sexual Violence.

What is sexual violence?

Any sexual act or act targeting a person's sexuality, gender identity or gender expression - whether the act is physical or psychological in nature - that is committed, threatened or attempted against a person without their consent. This includes but is not limited to:

  • sexual assault,
  • sexual harassment,
  • stalking,
  • indecent exposure,
  • voyeurism,
  • degrading sexual imagery,
  • sexual exploitation,
  • distribution of sexual images or video of a person without their consent, and
  • cyber harassment or cyber stalking of a sexual nature.

Several U of M policies address these behaviors:

What is sexual assault?

The intentional sexual touching of another person with any object or body part without consent or by force.


  • touching in a sexual way without permission
  • forced kissing or fondling
  • forced oral, anal or vaginal intercourse (rape)

Click here to view the University of Manitoba's full Sexual Assault Policy (PDF)

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment refers to a course of objectionable and unwelcome conduct or comments undertaken or made on the basis of sex. It includes offensive or humiliating behaviour of a sexual nature that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment. Some examples of sexual harassment are:

  • Unwanted sexual attention of a persistent or abusive nature;
  • Implied or expressed promise of reward for complying with a sexually oriented request;
  • Retaliation or threat of retaliation for refusal to comply with a sexual demand; and
  • Sexually oriented behaviour when it creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment.

What are some common reactions to sexual assault?

Individuals who have been assaulted will all react and respond differently to the trauma they have experienced. There is no right, wrong, or only way for a person to feel or express themselves. Here are some common reactions to trauma that a person my exhibit:

  • Shock
  • Denial
  • Appearing non-emotional
  • Self-blame
  • Flashbacks
  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Self harm
  • Changes in eating or sleeping
  • Be unsure
  • Inability to concentrate or lack of motivation
  • Sadness or crying
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Changes in relationships

The important thing to remember is to never assume that someone will act a certain way. A person's expressions or behaviours may not accurately reflect the extent of the trauma they may be experiencing.

What should I know about relationships with power imbalances?

The University strongly discourages intimate or sexual relationships between an employee and a student that they teach, supervise, advise, evaluate or are otherwise in a position of authority over. These relationships should be avoided. The University also strongly discourages intimate or sexual relationships between University employees where one employee is in a position of power over the other. These relationships should be avoided.

Both types of relationships have the potential to create unacceptable risks and abuses of power, resulting in a Conflict of Interest.

The employee in the position of power is responsible for disclosing the Conflict of Interest. The relationship must be disclosed immediately and in writing to the Head of their unit.

The conflict will be addressed as appropriate and in accordance with the University’s Conflict of Interest Procedure.

The University of Manitoba has created guides for our community members on intimate or sexual relationships. There are two guides:

What are some common sexual violence myths?

Sexual violence myths are prevalent and impact the way people think about and understand sexual violence. Common sexual violence myths can be found in Module 4 of the Sexual Violence Awareness resource, accessible through UM Learn. For more information on sexual violence myths, see the links below: